Up and Running: Mari's Journey

“Work like it’s all up to you, but pray like it’s all up to God.”

Thank you so much for visiting our fundraiser page! We are raising money for the medical bills and other associated costs with getting Marissa back up and running after her amputation. We appreciate all the help so much and extend all of our love and gratitude to you all.  Blessings!

Message from Nikki (Marissa’s mom)


When she was only 12, Marissa was diagnosed with a Desmoid tumor in her left ankle. This kind of tumor is painful, aggressive, and mysterious; in fact, it is so rare that doctors don't know what causes it or how to stop it from growing. 

Over the last decade, Marissa has done everything to keep the tumor from affecting her life. She's had multiple painful surgeries to debulk the tumor, each time losing a little more feeling and mobility in her ankle and foot. She's completely altered her diet, explored both Western medicine and holistic treatments to manage the pain and slow the growth. She's planned her school and work schedules accordingly to give her time for treatment, for doctors appointments and surgeries, and most importantly, for rest and recuperation.

But the tumor has been unrelenting. Before her most recent surgery, the pain was so extreme that she had to quit her job. She could no longer stand or walk for extended periods of time. She applied herself to finishing her schooling so that she could receive her Associates of Science degree from McHenry County Community College before her last debulking so that she wouldn't have to worry about school while she recovered.

At the end of May, she went into her final debulking surgery. Doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital told her that any further surgical intervention would likely mean the near-total loss of sensation and mobility in her left ankle and foot.  This had to work.

It didn't. 

Only three months after the surgery, Marissa was already in pain again. An MRI revealed the tumor was back with a vengeance, already nearly the same size it had been when it was taken out. This tumor was growing faster and faster after each surgery. Marissa was losing more and more of the feeling in her foot.
Because this type of tumor is unresponsive to chemotherapy and radiation, the only treatment left, the only option left, was amputation. This is a radical form of treatment, but historically for those who suffer with Desmoid tumors in their limbs, it is the only treatment that is proven to work. Desmoid tumors do not metastasize, so it will not spread to other parts of her body; however, without intervention, the tumor will continue to grow, unchecked, and further damage the already ravaged bones, tendons, and arteries in her lower leg. Furthermore, this tumor and the pain it causes has put every other aspect of Marissa's life to a halt.

With this amputation, Marissa will get her freedom back. She will be able to sleep through the night without being woken to pain. She will be able to have a social life again, not having to plan extensive breaks between outings to rest her ankle. But most importantly, Marissa will be able to resume her dream of becoming a veterinarian. After this surgery and her healing, she will be able to continue her schooling and training to becoming a vet tech, an important next step in her career. She will be able to walk her dogs again without pain. She will be able to go back to work, to run errands, to go shopping, to hang out with friends. She will be able to live her life again. All without pain.

But we need your help. Although a leg is necessary for Marissa to live her life like a normal 20 year old, the insurance doesn't think so. The insurance will not pay for the various prosthetics Marissa will need to get back to her life.  Not even if having these prosthetics and not being burdening with extensive medical bills will mean that Marissa can become a productive member of society. 

She's 20. She's already lost so much time, and we just want to give her back whatever we can.

Please help us to raise $75,000, which will go directly towards covering her medical bills, a basic prosthetic and a athletic prosthetic, and the many rounds of physical therapy Marissa will need to get back up and running again.

  • Birgit Mantilla 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
  • Lesley Brady  
    • $33 
    • 32 mos
  • Dianne Perez 
    • $10 
    • 32 mos
  • Pamela Johnson Stadler 
    • $10 
    • 32 mos
  • Oliver Ramirez 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
See all


Britt Manning 
Lake in the Hills, IL
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